The ROI of Listening Part I: Popular Hosts and Interesting Guests

When I speak with clients about business development through social media, I frequently use the analogy of a cocktail party. The same rules of thumb that help make you a popular host and sought-after guest in your social life apply to cultivating a blog that’s followed and linked to.

  1. No one wants to listen to someone talk about their job all night. Mix it up, and don’t be afraid to talk about your life/interests beyond work.
  2. The best way to meet people is to enter a conversation that’s already in progress. If you are a new or relatively unknown blogger, it is much easier and more productive to find people already talking about a topic you’re interested in than it is to throw some pick-up lines out there and hope someone will overhear. Use simple search tools to find, comment on and link to other blogs, posts and tweets that you find interesting, and you’re more likely to get the same intereste in return.
  3. Don’t spend all your time talking to the same small circle of friends. Social media “cool kids” love to cite and retweet each other. But if you haven’t noticed, eavesdroppers who try to join in are usually ignored. If you have that luxury, mazel tov, but most social marketers don’t. As the numbers of your followers, fans and subscribers grow, there’s an opportunity to differentiate yourself and build positive brand associations by being inclusive, or at least approachable.
  4. Politeness pays. Even a short but pleasant exchange can go a long way building your online brand. Guy Kawasaki was already a senior member of the social media pantheon when I started following him on Twitter.  When he followed me back, he tweeted a friendly message that showed he’d read my profile. Mind you, since then he’s never retweeted me, linked to one of my posts or responded to my @ comments, but I’m still a fan because he demonstrated simply and elegantly that he understands that small, polite gestures can carry a lot of branding weight.
  5. Location, location, location. Kevin O’Keefe’s recent post about Facebook rightly notes:

“For lawyers the key to client development success is going where the people are. The people preferably being your target audience of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three.”

Phrased another way:

  • Be interesting
  • Be approachable
  • Be curious
  • Work all parts of the room
  • Don’t be a jerk

Works for parties, works for social media.



  1. […] The “cocktail party” is a common metaphor in social networking parables — I’ve used it at least once myself – and Jay Fleischman offered an excellent version on Lawyerist […]

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